Outlook for the chemical industry

We expect the following developments in the chemical industry in 2014:

  • Stable growth in global chemical production (2014: +4.4%; 2013: +4.6%)
  • European Union: no widespread improvement (+1.1%)
  • United States: at +2.8%, growth rates comparable with previous year; robust growth in key customer industries
  • Asia (excluding Japan): somewhat weaker growth (+7.2%) due to anticipated consolidation in China
  • Japan: growth at 2.5%, higher than in previous year
  • South America: slight recovery (2.4%)
Outlook chemical production 2014
(excl. pharmaceuticals)
(Real change compared with previous year)
Outlook chemical production 2014 (excl. pharmaceuticals) (bar chart)Enlarge image
Trends chemical production 2014–2016
(excl. pharmaceuticals)
(Average annual real change)
Trends chemical production 2014–2016 (excl. pharmaceuticals) (bar chart)Enlarge image

We anticipate growth in chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals) of 4.4% in 2014 (2013: 4.6%). Rising demand in our customer industries will presumably lead to solid demand for chemical industry products. For the emerging markets, we anticipate high growth rates that are nevertheless somewhat lower than in the previous year (+6.3%) due to the expected macroeconomic consolidation in China, the world’s largest chemical market. Chemical production in the industrialized countries will likely grow somewhat faster than in 2013 (+1.9%).

We do not anticipate widespread improvement in the chemical industry in the European Union in 2014. While production in Spain and Italy will likely stagnate or slightly decrease, we expect slow growth in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Due to robust growth in the automobile industry, the construction sector and other key customer industries, we anticipate similarly high growth rates in chemical production in the United States, as in 2013. The chemical industry in the United States will increasingly benefit from low energy and raw material costs.

In Asia (excluding Japan), the construction sector and the automotive, electronics and consumer goods industries will create a solid demand for input from the chemical industry in 2014. Nonetheless, we assume that growth will be somewhat weaker compared with the previous year as a consequence of the consolidation expected in China.

For Japan, we anticipate faster growth in the chemical industry due to the higher growth rates forecasted for industrial production.

We expect chemical production in South America to slightly accelerate in 2014. Brazil, the largest market in the region, will likely see only minimal growth and remain at a rate below the country’s long-term average. The environment will continue to be challenging in Argentina. Stronger growth impetus will probably come from Chile and Colombia.